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In case you didn't see the full s/n, the on on my old website was 274770.

Your comments regarding serial number ranges made me check the other baris on my old website. I do have another Custom Built with s/n 274xxx here. (The pics aren't the best, but you can easily see the single-side bell keys and sorta make out the engraving.) The highest s/n I have on an Aristocrat split-bell key bari before 274xxx is 272229. 294xxx is about when the first "Big B" Aristocrats came onto the scene. The lowest serial number on a "Big B" bari I have pictures of is 318265.

I've generally not done that much research on American horns for the last few years, as other folks have done a lot of research on them. However, if I can be of assistance, post here or shoot me an e-mail. You might want to also check out the non-USA Horn version of my Buescher pages here. Note that they haven't been updated since 2006 ....

Sorry. One more thing: Buescher did have an entire line of Custom Built brasswinds. I don't know what serial number range these were produced in, but considering there are a lot more of these than Custom Built saxophones, that might help you narrow down a serial number range even more. I'd also be interested in seeing a Custom Built saxophone other than a baritone.
 

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Now I know who "Pete" is. :)
Thanks for the compliment!

I have a little note in my signature line that mentions that I'm the Artist Formerly Known as Saxpics, but you can turn of signatures. I changed my username when I sold saxpics.com several years back.

I think the next step would probably do a feature comparison of the True Tone, Aristocrat pre-model 139, Custom Built, and baris built after the Custom Built. Then, of course, you've got measurements.

Also, kudos to paulwl for getting that sales brochure stuff. Very nice.

EDIT: maddenma, I'd also love to see your silver Custom Built bari.
 

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Well, there wasn't an Aristocrat bari before the 139.
Here's the thing: there were most definitely baritones engraved "Aristocrat" before the Custom Built. Here's one where you can actually see that it's engraved "Aristocrat." You can argue that these horns are True Tones with different engraving, but they're definitely engraved "Aristocrat" and Buescher sold 'em as Aristocrats.

Several years back I found a Buescher Aristocrat C melody with a serial number of 256965 (model 128). I think the serial number is miss-stamped and should be "265965" because that'd at least get into the serial number range of the New Aristocrat. I could argue that this horn's also just a True Tone copy, but there are some keywork differences. Same thing with the True Tone bass from 1960 on my old website that Helen recently talked about on her blog.

Near as I can tell, the first 'Crat bari was the 139, and then there wasn't one for awhile.

I think this is possible, but not definite. Just because the last bari you've seen from Buescher was 284xxx (1938) and the next was the one I've seen at 318xxx (1949/50) doesn't prove there weren't any produced and/or they didn't have some lying around and stamped 'em with a serial number if they needed to sell one. Looking at the serial numbers of all the Aristocrat horns I have on saxpics.com, I don't see a large gap in serial numbers. Maybe a couple hundred, at most. As another example, I do see an incredibly large gap in True Tone C melody serial numbers. However, this might just mean that I stopped collecting C melody pics rather than Buescher stopping C melody production.

 

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paulwl said:
Pete, a C melody (or other off-model sax) could easily have sat in back inventory for several years in the 1930s until an order came in.
I agree and actually have supported this in my above post. More below.

maddenma said:
This is quite an interesting discussion, and I'm really glad you've chimed in on it!! You have a lot of information that we can sift through and think about.
It definitely is. I wish I had more time. Buescher is a brand that I've been interested in for a very long time because I was edumacated in the Rascher style. Yes, I also went to SUNY Fredonia.

maddenma said:
Not challenging your assertion that there were split bells with Aristocrat engraving. As I pointed out to someone in another thread, the "Aristocrat" branding is simply a label designating a line of products, rather than an indication of the the product itself. That label can be changed -- and clearly was here despite the engraving change and the addition of the New Aristocrat pinky table -- as it suits the company's marketing purposes without significantly changing the product.
maddenma said:
So, as for arguing TT vs. 'Crat for a particular instrument, what I've been looking more closely at is the model number, or at least strong indications of a particular model, rather than the product line label.
While I do agree that the engraving doesn't make a new horn, I don't agree that just having the same model number = same old horn. Using an example from memory (which is occasionally faulty) and from a different manufacturer, IIRC, the HN White King Zephyr Special and HN White King Super 20 had the same model number. While I've argued that they probably have the same bore dimensions -- up to a specific date/serial number -- I can easily point to the neck and say, "That's different."

Looking at what I did with the Buescher pages on saxpics.com, maddenma, you've noted that I broke down the True Tones, Aristocrats and 400s into various "series" of horns that share most of the same features. They're all still "True Tones," etc., but do these feature changes equal a different saxophone or a better saxophone? How about bevelled tone hole True Tones compared to the drawn tone hole ones?

I have three competing ideals. The first is that I'd love to make life easy on people and say something like, "The newer the True Tone, the better the horn" (which, even though it's an example, is pretty much true). The second is that I'd like to say, like you, "Any model 129 saxophone has essentially the same feature set. It doesn't really matter the age, they're all model 129s." The third is from the straight research part: "The differences between this model 129, with the 'Aristocrat' engraving, in this serial number range and that model 129, with the 'True Tone' engraving, in that serial number range is ...." I think the third ideal is the one I'd most want to attain, but it's also the most difficult one to research and present. Hey, folks buying horns want to hear, "Buy a model 129," rather than, "Buy a model 129 with the serial number range of x to y with the following list of features ...."

One other thing. While I can accept that the split-bell key model 129 is probably an awful lot like a True Tone, I think the change to single-side bell keys on later "Big B" Aristocrats is a considerable change. That's a redesigned bell and keywork modifications.

Info. Request: When do you say that Buescher started the model 129 split-bell key style during the True Tone series?

====================

Answering other questions:
I seem to remember posting with Paul in the past regarding his soprano. His straight soprano has the highest serial number I've seen. I'm no longer into collecting pics of every single horn (I'd like to; just don't have the time, so I'm trying just for the best on thesax.info/gallery), but the highest s/n on saxpics.com was 243741. The highest curved soprano was 246213.

maddenma asked about date ranges of split-bell baritones with "Aristocrat" engraved on them. I've got 5 on saxpics.com with a s/n range from 268336 to 272229.
 
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